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Draft buzz builds around E.J. Manuel

Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: EJ Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles throws a pass against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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The draft stock of former Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel appears to be rising after a strong Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently moved Manuel up to the No. 2 quarterback spot in his rankings, behind West Virginia’s Geno Smith and ahead of USC’s Matt Barkley. Mayock said Thursday on NFL Network that he moved Manuel up his board in part because of what he heard from NFL teams who met with Manuel at the Combine and found him to be an intelligent player who’s well prepared to take command of an NFL offense.

“Coming out of the Combine,” Mayock said, “I felt like there was a quiet buzz among some of the teams. Not just his workout, more important to me, they like the kid, they think he’s smart, and in the meeting rooms at night he passed that test.”

Manuel spent two years as Florida State’s No. 2 quarterback behind Christian Ponder and then spent two years as the Seminoles’ starter. In 2012 Manuel passed for 3,392 yards, had a 68.0 percent completion rate, and threw 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. With seven weeks to go before the draft, Manuel is looking more and more like a player whose name will be called in the first round.